Pact of Steel

The Pact of Steel (German: Stahlpakt, Italian: Patto d'Acciaio), formally known as the Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy, was a military and political alliance between Italy and Germany.

Pact of Steel
Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy
Galeazzo Ciano, Adolf Hitler and Joachim von Ribbentrop at the signing of the Pact of Steel in the Reichskanzlei in Berlin
Signed22 May 1939
LocationBerlin, Germany
Expiration1949 (effectively in 1943)
Signatories Joachim von Ribbentrop
Galeazzo Ciano
LanguagesGerman, Italian
Events leading to World War II
  1. Treaty of Versailles 1919
  2. Polish–Soviet War 1919
  3. Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye 1919
  4. Treaty of Trianon 1920
  5. Treaty of Rapallo 1920
  6. Franco-Polish alliance 1921
  7. March on Rome 1922
  8. Corfu incident 1923
  9. Occupation of the Ruhr 1923–1925
  10. Mein Kampf 1925
  11. Second Italo-Senussi War 1923–1932
  12. Dawes Plan 1924
  13. Locarno Treaties 1925
  14. Young Plan 1929
  15. Great Depression 1929
  16. Japanese invasion of Manchuria 1931
  17. Pacification of Manchukuo 1931–1942
  18. January 28 incident 1932
  19. Geneva Conference 1932–1934
  20. Defense of the Great Wall 1933
  21. Battle of Rehe 1933
  22. Nazis' rise to power in Germany 1933
  23. Tanggu Truce 1933
  24. Italo-Soviet Pact 1933
  25. Inner Mongolian Campaign 1933–1936
  26. German–Polish declaration of non-aggression 1934
  27. Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance 1935
  28. Soviet–Czechoslovakia Treaty of Mutual Assistance 1935
  29. He–Umezu Agreement 1935
  30. Anglo-German Naval Agreement 1935
  31. December 9th Movement
  32. Second Italo-Ethiopian War 1935–1936
  33. Remilitarization of the Rhineland 1936
  34. Spanish Civil War 1936–1939
  35. Italo-German "Axis" protocol 1936
  36. Anti-Comintern Pact 1936
  37. Suiyuan campaign 1936
  38. Xi'an Incident 1936
  39. Second Sino-Japanese War 1937–1945
  40. USS Panay incident 1937
  41. Anschluss Mar. 1938
  42. May Crisis May 1938
  43. Battle of Lake Khasan July–Aug. 1938
  44. Bled Agreement Aug. 1938
  45. Undeclared German–Czechoslovak War Sep. 1938
  46. Munich Agreement Sep. 1938
  47. First Vienna Award Nov. 1938
  48. German occupation of Czechoslovakia Mar. 1939
  49. Hungarian invasion of Carpatho-Ukraine Mar. 1939
  50. German ultimatum to Lithuania Mar. 1939
  51. Slovak–Hungarian War Mar. 1939
  52. Final offensive of the Spanish Civil War Mar.–Apr. 1939
  53. Danzig Crisis Mar.–Aug. 1939
  54. British guarantee to Poland Mar. 1939
  55. Italian invasion of Albania Apr. 1939
  56. Soviet–British–French Moscow negotiations Apr.–Aug. 1939
  57. Pact of Steel May 1939
  58. Battles of Khalkhin Gol May–Sep. 1939
  59. Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact Aug. 1939
  60. Invasion of Poland Sep. 1939

The pact was initially drafted as a tripartite military alliance between Japan, Italy and Germany. While Japan wanted the focus of the pact to be aimed at the Soviet Union, Italy and Germany wanted the focus of it to be aimed at the British Empire and France. Due to this disagreement, the pact was signed without Japan and as a result, it became an agreement which only existed between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, signed on 22 May 1939 by foreign ministers Galeazzo Ciano of Italy and Joachim von Ribbentrop of Germany.

The pact consisted of two parts. The first section was an open declaration of continuing trust and co-operation between Germany and Italy. The second section, the "Secret Supplementary Protocol", encouraged a union of policies concerning the military and the economy.[1]


Germany and Italy fought against each other in World War I.[2] Popularity and support for radical political parties (such as the Nazis of Adolf Hitler and the Fascists of Benito Mussolini) exploded after the Great Depression had severely hampered the economies of both countries.[2]

In 1922, Mussolini secured his position as Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy.[3] His first actions made him immensely popular - massive programs of public works provided employment and transformed Italy's infrastructure.[4] In the Mediterranean, Mussolini built a powerful navy, larger than the combined might of the British and French Mediterranean fleets.[2]

When he was appointed Chancellor in 1933, Hitler initiated a huge wave of public works and secret rearmament.[5] Fascism and Nazism shared similar principles and Hitler and Mussolini met on several state and private occasions in the 1930s.[6] On 23 October 1936, Italy and Germany signed a secret protocol aligning their foreign policy for the first time on such issues as the Spanish Civil War, the League of Nations and the Abyssinia Crisis.[7]


In 1931, Japanese forces invaded the region of Manchuria because of its rich grain fields and reserves of raw minerals.[2] This, however, provoked a diplomatic clash with the Soviet Union, which bordered Manchuria.[2] To combat this Soviet threat, the Japanese signed a Pact with Germany in 1936.[2] The aim of the pact was to guard against any attack from Soviet Russia were it to move on China.[2]

Japan elected to focus on anti-Soviet alliances instead of anti-Western alliances like Italy and Germany.[8] Germany, however, feared that an anti-USSR alliance would create the possibility of a two-front war before they could conquer Western Europe.[8] So when Italy invited Japan to sign the Pact of Steel, it demurred.[8]


Officially, the Pact of Steel obliged Germany and Italy to aid the other country militarily, economically or otherwise in the event of war, and to collaborate in wartime production.[9] The Pact aimed to ensure that neither country was able to make peace without the agreement of the other.[10] The agreement was based on the assumption that a war would not occur within three years.[10] When Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939 and war broke out on 3 September, Italy was not yet prepared for conflict and had difficulty meeting its obligations.[11] Consequently, Italy did not enter World War II until June 1940, with a delayed invasion of Southern France.[12]

Article I
The Contracting Parties will remain in permanent contact with each other in order to come to an understanding of all common interests or the European situation as a whole.[10]
Article II
In the event that the common interests of the Contracting Parties be jeopardized through international happenings of any kind, they will immediately enter into consultation regarding the necessary measures to preserve these interests. Should the security or other vital interests of one of the Contracting Parties be threatened from outside, the other Contracting Party will afford the threatened Party its full political and diplomatic support in order to remove this threat.[10]
Article III
If it should happen, against the wishes and hopes of the Contracting Parties, that one of them becomes involved in military complications with another power or other Powers, the other Contracting Party will immediately step to its side as an ally and will support it with all its military might on land, at sea and in the air.[10]
Article IV
In order to ensure, in any given case, the rapid implementation of the alliance obligations of Article III, the Governments of the two Contracting Parties will further intensify their cooperation in the military sphere and the sphere of war economy. Similarly the two Governments will keep each other regularly informed of other measures necessary for the practical implementation of this Pact. The two Governments will create standing commissions, under the direction of the Foreign Ministers, for the purposes indicated in Article I and II.[10]
Article V
The Contracting Parties already at this point bind themselves, in the event of a jointly waged war, to conclude any armistice or peace only in full agreement with each other.[10]
Article VI
The two Contracting Parties are aware of the importance of their joint relations to the Powers which are friendly to them. They are determined to maintain these relations in future and to promote the adequate development of the common interests which bind them to these Powers.[10]
Article VII
This Pact comes into force immediately upon its signing. The two Contracting Parties are agreed upon fixing the first period of its validity at 10 years. In good time before the elapse of this period they will come to an agreement regarding the extension of the validity of the Pact.[10]

Secret supplementary protocolsEdit

The secret supplementary protocols of the Pact of Steel, which were split into two sections, were not made public at the time of the signing of the Pact.[13]

The first section urged the countries to quicken their joint military and economic cooperation whilst the second section committed the two countries to cooperate in "matters of press, the news service and the propaganda" to promote the power and image of the Rome-Berlin Axis.[13] To aid in this, each country was to assign "one or several specialists" of their country in the capital city of the other for close liaisons with the Foreign Minister of that country.[13]

Name changeEdit

After being told the original name, "Pact of Blood", would likely be poorly received in Italy, Mussolini proposed the name "Pact of Steel", which was ultimately chosen.[14]


According to Article VII, the pact was to last 10 years, but this did not happen.[10] In November 1942, the Axis forces in North Africa, led by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, were decisively defeated by the British and British Commonwealth forces at the Second Battle of El Alamein.[15] In July 1943 the Western Allies opened up a new front by invading Sicily.[15] In the aftermath of this, Mussolini was overthrown by 19 members of the Gran Consiglio who voted in favour of the Ordine Grandi. The new Italian government, under Field Marshal Pietro Badoglio, signed an armistice with the Allies in September and became a non-belligerent, thus effectively ending Italy's involvement in the pact.[15]

Although a puppet government under Mussolini, the Italian Social Republic, was established in Northern Italy by Nazi Germany, Italy continued as a member of the pact in name only.[15]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Gibler, Douglas M. 2008. International Military Alliances, 1648-2008. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press. pp. 326-327.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g The Road To War.
  3. ^ Knight 2013, p. 22.
  4. ^ Knight 2013, pp. 68–69.
  5. ^ Shirer 1960, pp. 258–262.
  6. ^ Corvaja 2013, p. 13.
  7. ^ Stumpf 2001, p. 146.
  8. ^ a b c Maltarich 2005, p. 75.
  9. ^ Hiden 2014, pp. 187–188.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j The Italo-German Alliance.
  11. ^ Belco 2010, p. 37.
  12. ^ Knox 2002, p. 181.
  13. ^ a b c The Pact of Steel.
  14. ^ Nicholls 2000, p. 195.
  15. ^ a b c d The Mediterranean And North Africa.


  • Belco, Victoria (2010). War, Massacre, and Recovery in Central Italy, 1943–1948. University of Toronto. ISBN 978-0-8020-9314-1.
  • Corvaja, Santi (2013). Hitler & Mussolini: The Secret Meetings. Enigma Books. ISBN 978-0982491164.
  • Hiden, John (2014). Germany and Europe 1919–1939. Routledge Publishing. ISBN 978-1-317-89627-2.
  • Knight, Patricia (2013). Mussolini and Fascism. Routledge. ISBN 978-1136477508.
  • Knox, MacGregor (2002). Hitler's Italian Allies: Royal Armed Forces, Fascist Regime, and the War of 1940–1943. Cambridge University. ISBN 978-1-139-43203-0.
  • Maltarich, William (2005). Samurai and Supermen: National Socialist Views of Japan. Peter Lang Publishing. ISBN 978-3-03-910303-4.
  • Nicholls, David (2000). Adolf Hitler: A Biographical Companion. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-87436-965-6.
  • Shirer, William (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-62420-0.
  • Stumpf, Reinhard (2001). "From the Berlin–Rome Axis to the Military Agreement of the Tripartite Pact: The Sequence of Treaties from 1936 to 1942". Germany and the Second World War. Vol. VI: The Global War – Widening of the Conflict into a World War and the Shift of the Initiative 1941–1943. Clarendon Press. pp. 144–160.